My name is Alamud Ahab, and I killed my first werewolf when I was fourteen years old.
It was my father, the night he slaughtered my mother and two sisters and younger brother. He did not kill them intentionally, of course. Once the wolf takes hold there is little a soul can do to stop it. I don’t know how he hid his curse from us for so long, but, for whatever reason, he could keep it from us no longer that night near forty years ago now. I awoke to find them all in the living room before the fireplace, blood and entrails staining my father’s fur and the room surrounding him as he feasted on my youngest sister Aisha. Her face was still intact while he ate, expression frozen for all time in a mire of confusion. I grabbed a silver tray from mother’s fine dining cabinet and beat the thing until it twitched on the floor and didn’t move any further.
Only when it died and reformed into the more familiar shape of my father did I realize what had happened. The grief was… overwhelming. For many years I hated my father, hated him for not telling us of his secret and for being unable to control it that fateful night. For many years thereafter I killed lycanthropes in the vain hope that it would bring me some sense of satisfaction. It was too late before I realized that no such thing existed in this life. I still kill werewolves by the score, but no longer out of malice. I do it now because I don’t know how to do anything else.
I turned my thoughts away from the past and refocused on the task at hand, shifting my feet in the blind I had set up to readjust my knees and let them resume their proper blood-flow. It’s dangerous to let your thoughts wander while on the hunt, for the werewolf does not share your predilection for reflection. He does not think of the past, is not beholden to the same burdens or demons you or I can fall prey to in the quiet moments. He thinks of nothing but his meal and the one after that, and if you make the mistake of thinking about anything else, you are just as likely to become his next one.
I had been tracking this particular alpha down the Appalachian Trail to Tennessee. My trap was set and baited with the leg of a faun. Single combat with a werewolf is generally an outcome I like to avoid whenever possible. Some are small and easier to manhandle, but the big ones pose a greater problem, and the threat of an infection via bite is always present. Although I have killed many with my bare hands, most of that was luck, and I was twenty years younger and a damn sight stupider. I could always resort to my rifle, but again: only as a last resort. Silver bullets ain’t cheap or easy to manufacture, after all.
No, the best way to get them is before they can get you. In my years as a hunter I have devised several traps, the most successful of which is a simple snare with a noose fashioned out of silver wire. It doesn’t work as a way to entrap a werewolf; no simple snare could do that. But it does prove quite effective otherwise: once the beast trips the trigger, the noose slips ’round its head and the silver wire ensures it is decapitated instantly. Quick and efficient, but still quite dangerous and requiring the hunter’s utmost attention. If the trap malfunctions in any way, the werewolf is usually sent into a rage from panic and fear, and looks to take that rage out on anything unlucky enough to be caught in its path.
I don’t usually have to track them, as they are human during most of the month and typically don’t follow a migratory pattern. Werewolves are actually quite easy prey, as you can always pinpoint their location to towns that have severe animal attacks every night of the full moon. Humans don’t tend to follow game or move according to the seasons--most reliably stay in the same town, working the same job or living in the same domain. But this one… this one was smart. This one seemed to lean into his inner wolf even when he wasn’t turned, moving from town to town to keep ahead of the game.
It was a hard thing, killing a werewolf. They were most likely decent people with families and loved ones for roughly 346 days out of the year. But each time I think I’ve had enough, as they revert back to their human form and spend their last moments pleading to me before death, I remember my father, and what had happened to my own family. If they don’t have the sense or the means to lock themselves up before the turn, well… I’m sorry, but they don’t deserve to be a part of normal society in the first place.
And the ones like I was currently tracking? The sickos who actually enjoy becoming the wolf, who get some kind of perverse thrill from it? They certainly needed to be put down like the mad dogs that they were. There were perhaps philosophers and social theorists and the like who would scoff at this, the killing of a supposed innocent for crimes with which they have no control, but that’s okay. They can think and argue however they want, so long as I’m the one out here ensuring they don’t run into one of the beasts on the night of a full moon.
This one I was tracking was a keen one, for sure. For a moment, I let myself wonder if I was on the trail of the Great White Werewolf, but quickly shook my head of the thought. It’s a beast only spoken of in whispery tones in hunters’ circles, when the night is long and the booze has a chance to set in and tongues grow loose and eager to impress. Seemingly all of them have a tale of coming across it one night, a thing so white it almost glows in the moonlight. It is anywhere from eight to fifteen feet tall, depending on the blood alcohol level of the teller, and was capable of everything from mind control to manipulating the moon itself. Utter nonsense, all of it. But still, every time I track a keen Alpha, I can’t help but wonder…
The woods snapped behind me, and all thought fell away. Footsteps padded the underbrush, carefully making their way to where my snare was set. I hoisted the rifle up to my shoulder and leaned as far into the tree as my wider-than-I’d-car-to-admit frame would allow. Hopefully the snare would catch properly this time, allowing for a quick and clean kill.
I lifted the cap from each end of my rifle’s scope, saw the world in the dull neon green of night vision. The leg of faun sat in exactly the same position as where I’d left it, unmolested. The footsteps grew louder, approaching nearer with each footfall. I swept the rifle slowly towards the origin of the sound, eager to catch a glimpse of my prey. A pair of feet scuttled across the ground. Pale white feet, with nary a hair on them. I swept the rifle up, caught a glimpse of the faded, cotton fabric nightgown wavering in the air as they inched their way towards the snare covered in moss and dead leaves.
I leapt from the blind, almost twenty feet down. My ankle didn’t roll when I landed, so I thanked Allah for that. I don’t even believe in Allah anymore, but old habits and all. Taking a moment to gather my balance, I dashed the distance between myself and the trap, and the pale, hairless feet now ambling along towards it. Snares were illegal in most states for a reason--too easy for someone to stumble into them unawares. A pet. A small child…
I arrived just in time to stop the errant feet and the person above them. My lungs were afire in my breast, my vision starting to go spotty, but still I managed to grab hold of smooth, bare shoulders, holding them firmly in place before they could take another step. My adrenalin abating, I was met with a pale-faced girl with brilliant green eyes staring back into my own. Her hair was as dark as the night around us, and a spackle of light-brown freckles was spread over her nose and the upper half of her cheeks, accentuating a natural beauty that comes to only so few. I guessed her age to be roughly in the early twenties, right as she fell forward into my arms. Catching her, my hands came away wet and sticky.
“Help,” she said, in a voice dry as sandpaper. “Please…”
Her pale blue nightgown was stained in a red blossom that bloomed brightest above her right breast. She pulled the nightgown down slightly, and I knew the wound instantly. I could recognize those marks no matter the size or placement, were I blind in the left eye or the right.Werewolf bite.
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